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Canvas: The basics

Finding your strategy with the five W’s of visualization

Answer the following questions to get started:

  1. What am I trying to help the customer do or understand? (Canvas name)

  2. When will a user start this experience? Pick one of the following:
    • Scheduled: Enter users at a designated time
    • Action-Based: Enter user when they perform actions
      • Make a purchase
      • Start a session
      • Perform a custom event
      • Enter a location
      • Interact with or leave another campaign or Canvas
    • API-Triggered (advanced): Enter users when they perform a specific action that triggers an API request to Braze
      • API-triggered campaigns give you the flexibility to house message content inside of the Braze dashboard while dictating when a message is sent and to whom, via your API.

  3. Who are we trying to reach? (Segment Name with optional additional filters)
    • Custom Data
    • User Activity
    • Retargeting
    • Marketing Activity
    • User Attributes
    • Install Attribution
    • Social Activity

  4. Why am I creating this Canvas?
    • Start Session: I want them coming back and engaging with the app.
    • Make Purchase: I want them to buy.
    • Perform Custom Event: I want them to perform a specific action that I’m tracking as a custom event.
    • Upgrades App: I want them to upgrade their app version

  5. Where will we reach them?
    • Email
    • Push (Android, iOS, Windows, web)
    • In-app Messages
    • Content Cards
    • SMS or MMS
    • Webhook

  6. How will we reach them? (Great place to test different messaging configurations)
    • Timing: Schedule or trigger messages using tools like Intelligent Timing and delays after trigger events
    • Cadence & Channel: Use one channel and then another or sent messages on multiple channels simultaneously
    • Content: Build creative copy with strong appeals, value propositions, and CTAs
    • Targeting: Add additional segments and filters
    • Triggers: Use customer actions to trigger messages

Anatomy of Canvas

Here’s an overview of the anatomy of a Canvas:

Canvas refers to the workspace and overall visualization.


A journey or customer journey is an individual user’s experience within the Canvas.

Journey for New User

The Entry Step and The Entry Wizard are the first steps you take when creating your Canvas. Here, you can control the way your users begin and fulfill their customer journey.


Variants are the variant flows marketers build that create personalized journeys.


Steps are individual decision points (like messages) within a variant.


Building the customer journey in Canvas

Name your Canvas: The “what”

Never underestimate the power of the name. Braze is built for collaboration so this is a good time to get grounded in how you’ll communicate goals with your team. You can add Tags (including Teams Tags) and name both steps and variants within the Canvas. For more on customer journeys, check out our Braze Learning course on mapping user lifecycles!

Create starting conditions: The “when”

When will a customer run into this Canvas? Users can enter your Canvas in two ways: scheduled or action-based triggers.

Scheduled Action-Based
You can use scheduled delivery when you want to send a Canvas out immediately to your target audience, have it regularly sent, or schedule it for a specific time in the future. These Canvases respond to specific customer behaviors as they happen. These action-based triggers can include opening your app, making a purchase, interacting with another campaign, or triggering any custom event.

Select an entry audience for entry: The “who”

Who are you trying to reach? Here you can use a pre-defined segment and add further filters. Filters include:

Filter Description
Custom Data Custom data filters allow you to segment users based on events and attributes you define. With them, you can use features specific to your product.
User Activity User activity filters allow you to segment customers based on their actions and purchases.
Retargeting Retargeting filters allow you to segment customers who have been sent, received, or interacted with previous Campaigns or Canvases.
Marketing Activity Marketing filters segment customers based on universal behaviors like last engagement or received campaigns.
User Attributes User attribute filters segment customers by their constant attributes and characteristics.
Install Attribution Install attribution filters segment customers by their first source, adgroup, campaign, or ad.
Social Activity Social activity filters segment customers by their social media activity namely through connection to Facebook and Twitter.

Only the users who match these target audience criteria can enter the journey.

Identify conversion events: The “why”

Why are you building this Canvas? It’s always important to have a defined goal in mind and Canvas helps you understand how you are performing against KPIs like session engagement, purchases, and custom events.

Selecting at least one conversion event will give you the ability to understand your campaign performance and also to help you optimize performance within the Canvas as if your Canvas has multiple variants and/or a control group Braze will use the conversion event to determine the best variation for achieving this goal.

Build the experience: The “how” and “where”

  1. Setting up variants: A variant is the trail each customer follows on their journey. Canvas supports up to eight variants with a control group. While not required, you can name each variant, as well as control the distribution of the target audience following each variant.

  2. Building steps: A step is a marketing decision point—what is the experience you’re creating? Within a step, you can set triggers or schedule delivery, refine targeting by adding filters or marking exception events and add channels from email to push to webhooks.

  3. Determining when and how to use steps & variants: Each Canvas must have at least one variant and at least one step. The sky’s the limit from there—so how do you decide on the shape of your Canvas? That’s where your goals, data, and hypothesis come into play. The “how” and “where” brainstorm will help you map out the right shape and structure of your Canvas. There are a couple approaches you can use:

    • Work backwards: Some goals have smaller sub-goals. For instance, if you’re aiming for converting a free user into a subscription, you may need a page with your subscription services outlined. A visitor may need to see the options before they purchase. You may focus your messaging efforts on showing them this page before a checkout page. Working backward to understand the journey a customer must go through to get to your goal is key to guiding them through to conversion.
    • Start with the status quo and add more: Have you ran a similar campaign in the past? Or is one currently running? Use that one message and add to it. Try a new filter or add a followup message. Look at your performance and keep optimizing by making incremental changes.
    • Look to others: Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Don’t reinvent in the wheel. Don’t worry, we have you covered. At the end of this guide, you’ll find some outlines that can help you get started.
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